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November 19, 2020


Belize / El Salvador / Guatemala / Honduras / Nicaragua (Security threat levels – 3 / 4 / 4 / 4 / 4): As of 19 November 2020, Tropical Depression Iota has weakened into a post-tropical remnant over El Salvador and Guatemala. The system is forecast to continue moving west into the Pacific Ocean through 19 November where it is expected to dissipate entirely. However, significant flash-flooding is expected to continue across portions of several Central American countries through 19 November. Guatemala, Honduras and southern Belize are expected to receive 100-200 mm (4-8 in) of rainfall, with isolated maximums of up to 300 mm, while portions of El Salvador and Nicaragua are predicted to receive 50-100 mm, with isolated maximums of up to 150 mm. Additionally, swells generated by the storm are forecast to continue affecting much of the Central American coastline and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula through 20 November.

Thus far, the storm has caused 38 fatalities: 18 in Nicaragua, 14 in Honduras, two each in Colombia and Guatemala, one in Panama and one in El Salvador. The storm severely damaged buildings as high winds tore off roofs, downed trees and power lines, and heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding and triggered several large landslides. Thousands of people remain in government shelters as widespread power outages and flooding continue, and disaster recovery efforts are ongoing throughout the region.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 19 November 2020, COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout the country. In response, state and local governments continue to enact restrictions intended to limit the spread of the disease. In Los Angeles, California, and in the state of Minnesota limits on business operations will go into effect on 20 November. In Michigan, statewide restrictions on businesses and educational institutions are currently in effect until 8 December. In Ohio, a nightly curfew is in place through at least 10 December.

In Los Angeles County, California, as of 20 November all cafes, bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses must close daily from 2200-0600 local time (0600-1400 UTC); indoor retail establishments must operate at 25% maximum capacity and indoor dining services remain prohibited; outdoor dining and business operations are restricted to 50% capacity; personal care services such as barbershops and salons must operate by appointment only; and outdoor gatherings are limited to 15 people from up to three households. Authorities have indicated that additional restrictions, including a countywide curfew, may be introduced if COVID-19 case numbers continue to increase.

In Minnesota, a series of statewide restrictions on businesses and social gatherings will be in effect from 2359 local time on 20 November (0559 UTC on 21 November) until at least 18 December. Bars, cafes and restaurants must close for in-person services and may only provide takeout or delivery services, while entertainment venues and recreational facilities must close. Nonessential businesses may continue to operate in compliance with face mask requirements and other health measures, although personal care establishments such as barbershops and salons must operate at 50% capacity. In addition, social gatherings are restricted to members of the same household only.

On 18 November Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer implemented new statewide restrictions, which will remain in effect until 8 December. Under the new orders, arcades, bowling alleys, bingo halls, casinos, cinemas, ice skating rinks, indoor water parks, stadiums and theaters are required to close. College, university and high school classes must be conducted remotely, while workers in general are also required to work remotely, with exceptions for situations in which the job must be done in person. Additionally, indoor dining at bars and restaurants is banned.

In Ohio, a statewide nightly 2200-0500 local time (0300-1000 UTC) curfew is in effect from 19 November until at least 10 December. During curfew hours, residents must remain in their homes and restrict outdoor travel to essential activities such as procuring food or medicine, traveling to and from work, or seeking emergency medical care. Nonessential businesses must close. In addition, on 16 November officials issued a health order restricting social gatherings such as weddings and funerals. Under the order, guests must wear face masks unless actively eating or drinking and are required to remain seated at all times. Furthermore, no more than 10 people may be seated at a single table, and socializing — including dancing — is not permitted.


Uganda (Security threat level – 4): On 19 November 2020, protests continued for a second consecutive day in the capital city Kampala and several other major towns in the area over the arrest of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi — more commonly known as “Bobi Wine” — who was taken into custody while campaigning in the eastern city of Luuka on 18 November. Following Wine’s arrest, protesters blocked roads and burned tires, while riot police officers fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. At least 16 people were killed and more than 60 others were injured during the clashes on 18 November. Police officers also arrested approximately 350 individuals. Authorities allege that acts of looting, vandalism and robbery occurred during the demonstrations. Despite a heavy security presence in Kampala, demonstrations were still reported across the city. A police spokesperson alleged that Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP) party has used violence as a campaign tool and flouted COVID-19 guidelines limiting rallies to a maximum of 200 attendees. Wine has previously been arrested several times on vague charges, including most recently on the day he was nominated as a presidential candidate. Wine is challenging incumbent President Yoweri Museveni in the presidential election scheduled for January 2021. In response to the ongoing situation, several other presidential candidates suspended their campaigns and called for the release of Wine and other politicians arrested alongside him.


Finland (Security threat level – 2): On 19 November 2020, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Finland, which reads in part as follows: “When arriving in Finland, you must avoid unnecessary close contact with others and self-isolate for a period of 10 days.”

Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 18 November 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City issued an alert regarding Fuego Volcano threatening downstream populations, which reads in part as follows: “Fuego Volcano threatens downstream populations: Heavy rains from Hurricane Iota have significantly increased the potential for destructive lahars to form on the flanks of Fuego Volcano, threatening populations and infrastructure downstream.

“Heavy rainfall has the potential to mobilize a large volume of loose volcanic deposits from the 2018 eruption of Fuego. Destructive lahars are likely to form in drainage channels surrounding the volcano, and are capable of traveling far distances downstream from the volcano and inundating populated areas along these channels within minutes. The Rio Cenizas and Rio Guacalate are of most concern. Populations in downstream areas, specifically in the towns of Escuintla and Siquinalá, should heed warnings from officials and evacuate if necessary.

“Visit CONRED (Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres) and INSIVUMEH (Instituto Nacional de Sismología, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrología) websites for updated weather and hazard information.”

Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 18 November 2020, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Montserrat, which reads in part as follows: “The Government of Montserrat has introduced enhanced health screening and all new arrivals will need to self-isolate. This can be for up to 14 days if isolating at home, or less if you choose to pay to enter a government quarantine centre and give a negative result to a subsequent COVID-19 test after a few days, after which you will be released. Individuals who exhibit signs of the virus may face quarantining at the discretion of the Medical Officer.”

Netherlands (Security threat level – 2): On 19 November 2020, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for the Netherlands, which reads in part as follows: “Restaurants and bars are currently closed. From 19 November, museums, cinemas and other attractions will be open with limits to group sizes and reservations mandatory. Full details of these and other measures can be found on the Dutch government website (in English).

“At present, the Dutch government strongly advises that face masks are worn in all indoor public spaces. This does not include children under the age of 13. From 1 December wearing a face mask will be compulsory in all indoor public spaces. This includes shops, museums, cafes and theatres.”